Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Perfect Player

About a week ago John Stockton was enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He was my favorite basketball player growing up and someone I always looked up to. He made it cool to pass, to work hard, and he always put the team and his family first.

After Bill Belichick’s comment that recently retired linebacker Tedy Bruschi was a “perfect player” Jerry Sloan said that John Stockton is the closest thing he's ever seen to a perfect NBA player. "I'd never heard that before," Sloan told the Salt Lake Tribune, "but it certainly would represent John Stockton in almost every aspect of basketball."

John Stockton led his team to 19 playoff appearances, making it to the NBA finals twice. I will never forget the first, when he made the three pointer over Charles Barkley at the buzzer to win the series. The Jazz didn’t usually show a lot of emotion, but boy did they show it then!

He played in 10 all star games, being named co-MVP of the 1993 game with teammate Karl Malone. He was selected to the All-NBA teams 10 times and named to the NBA All-Defensive teams five times. In 1996 he was named one of the 50 greatest players ever to play in the NBA, he truly did it all.

John Stockton commandingly holds the records for both Assists and Steals. He had 5,483 more assists than second place Mark Jackson. To demonstrate how amazing this is, only 33 players in NBA history have ever recorded 5,483 assists. He has over twice as many assists as Steve Nash who has won two MVP awards.

He holds the record for assists-per-game average over one season with 14.5, and is one of only three players to record over 1,000 assists in one season. Kevin Porter and Isiah Thomas did it once, Stockton did it SEVEN times!

Not only could he play great defense and make everyone around him better, but he was a great scorer. He ranks #30 on the all-time NBA scoring list with 19,711 career points.

With all of these records and success you might think it would go to his head. This was never the case. He was as humble as could be. He was often the smallest player on the court, he didn’t look very imposing, but he always gave it his all. Karl Malone said he would wake up during the off season and think to himself, John’s at home working out, so I better get working. He inspired everyone around him, his teammates often had their best seasons of their career. If they worked hard they knew that he would reward them.

He tried to stay out of the limelight, and was very successful. Check out this video it is hilarious!

I was fortunate enough to meet John Stockton, although not as fan friendly as Karl Malone. (Who I have met a few times, he and his brother gave my brother and I fishing lessons).

His autograph is one of my prized possessions. My dad won tickets to the game that he broke the steals record. (Luckily he got a steal that day) After the game they gave us a certificate that said we were in attendance. Later in the year we attended one of the Jazz practices. We hoped that we could get all of the Jazz players to sign autographs.

Every single player signed for me except for Stockton, this did not stop my determination. We waited out in the parking lot for him to head home, he was the very last player to leave. At this point there was only my little brother and I waiting. We asked again for his autograph and he said only if we would walk with him to his car. We agreed and I was able to get the certificate signed.

As he enters the Hall of Fame I will always remember him as the perfect player. He gave his all, made those around him better. He could score with the best, yet was satisfied to let someone else get the glory of scoring. He never liked all of the attention and awards, yet they came in abundance and may have come more freely if he had been willing to work more with the media and fans. His assist record may never be broken. I know, in my heart at least, that he will always be the best point guard to ever play the game.

This video almost brings tears to my eyes, so many good memories.

1. John Stockton 15,806
2 Mark Jackson 10,334
3 JASON KIDD 10,199
4 Magic Johnson 10,141
5 Oscar Robertson 9,887
6 Isiah Thomas 9,061
7 Gary Payton 8,966
8 Rod Strickland 7,987
9 STEVE NASH 7,505
10 Maurice Cheeks 7,392

1 John Stockton 3,265
2 Michael Jordan 2,514
3 Gary Payton 2,445
4 Maurice Cheeks 2,310
5 Scottie Pippen 2,307
6 Clyde Drexler 2,207
7 JASON KIDD 2,198
8 Hakeem Olajuwon 2,162
9 Alvin Robertson 2,112
10 Karl Malone 2,085


Lorraine said...

Very cool!

The Purple Lady said...

I feel informed. Thanks for sharing this with everyone.